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Saturday, December 29, 2012

BBC World Service, Disability Rights & A Great Place for a Seizure

Above is the link to a program I did on the BBC World Service.  I was on a panel for "The Forum" and they invite three unrelated guests, in this case, a writer (me), an evolutionary historian from Sweden, and an Oxford academic who specializes in dance rituals in Senegal.  They throw topics at as and we talk.

I was given the chance to make it a platform for disability rights by talking about epilepsy and being the one assigned the topic: "A 60 second idea to change the world".  I suggested that the world would be far different if everyone could experience a disability for one month.  In short, "...what if presidents, queens, CEOs and celebrities knew they would be disabled for a month..." and then we all talked about it and a bit about epilepsy.

I hope you find it interesting.


Terry Tracy

Note from Samuel: See also and Tracy's book on

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Prayer for Sue Marsh, British Disability Campaigner (@suey2y on Twitter)

May the One who was a source of blessing for our ancestors, bring blessings of healing upon Sue Marsh, a healing of body and a healing of spirit. May those in whose care she is entrusted, be gifted with wisdom and skill, and those who surround her, be gifted with love and trust, openness and support in her care. And may she be healed along with all those who are in need. Blessed are You, Source of healing. Amen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Medical Tyranny

Dear Mr McCartney
I understand that you are the MP representing ex-serviceman Mr Smith, as featured in this disturbing press article:
Like many others, I have been concerned by this report in the Atos Victims Group News, following exposure in This Is Lincolnshire, regarding the plight of ex-serviceman 'Mr Smith' who lives with a potentially fatal condition, and I am speaking as a retired cardiac care specialist and a disabled female veteran.
Please send my best wishes to Mr Smith and advise him that this disabled veteran is fighting for people like him.
There remains considerable confusion within the general public - and the DWP too - regarding the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), as conducted by Atos Healthcare, with people still presuming that they 'failed' the Atos test when, in reality, it is the totally unqualified DWP 'Decision Maker' that makes the decision regarding benefit entitlement who, by their own admission, are totally incapable of deciphering medical opinion from Consultants or anyone else.  Hence the tendancy, by their own admission, to 'rubber stamp' the Atos findings etc.  Professor Harrington exposed this unhappy reality in his first assessment.  Nothing has improved.
The significant debate in Westminster Hall will better inform you: where you will learn that Atos are employing some doctors who are 'not allowed' to assess patients but are permitted to work for Atos.....  That should tell you a lot .... and it will ring alarm bells to anyone who is medically qualified.
The WCA is not just seriously flawed but is a threat to our most vulnerable people, is totally unaccountable to the General Medical Council and it is based on an unacceptable concept.  A simple 'snap-shot' into a day in the life of a claimant is totally inadequate as any form of so called 'medical assessment' using a computer tick box instead of taking a full & detailed medical history.  Past medical evidence is ignored until Appeal.
The WCA is an occupational health assessment yet the one group of healthcare workers that Atos never recruit are Occupational Therapists..... 
The WCA is a dangerous assessment using the highly discredited Bio-Psychosocial (BPS) model of disability model, as promoted by the private health insurance industry and Unum Insurance, acknowledged by the New York Attorney General as the 2nd worst in the US, were government 'advisers' when setting up the WCA. (See attached research.)
Please be further advised that the BPS model of assessment is identified as being totally unfit for purpose.
Please see: (COMPARE to Experiences of British people with WCA.... audio recordings.....etc, etc)
I have researched the links between Atos Healthcare, Unum Insurance and the DWP for three years, and reports are now attached as welcomed by 9 Professors in 7 different universities, as well as a multitude of national frontline charities, welfare agencies and a variety of specialists.
Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, a recognised BPS 'expert' recently confirmed that the BPS model of disability was "unsatisfactory"  and that it "... no longer addresses the real needs of disabled people..."  yet this significant news has yet to be widely reported, ?? why....  because the WCA uses the BPS moel to reduce the welfare budget :
The constant failure of the DWP to accept the crisis now faced by the most vulnerable in this country, dismissed by claiming that anyone who isn't happy with the Atos assessment, or the WCA decision, can simply make an appeal is so callous. 
The DWP's own figures demonstrate that 1100 people, passed fit for work, had died before their appeal date which can now take as long as 12 months to be heard and appeals using an advocate are running at 70% success and not the often reported 40%. 
Other MPs such as Nick Debois tries to limit this nightmare by demonstrating how many assessments are going through the system without it seems comprehending the many thousands who are unable to consider dealing with an appeal, that may now take as long as 12 months to achieve, and there are others who do without their benfits rather than subject themselves to this gvt funded medical tyranny.
Clearly, the DWP totally UNQUALIFIED 'Decision Makers' administration staff, and especially the medically unqualified DWP Ministers, all fail to comprehend the extreme levels of stress these dangerously absurd decisions place on our sick and disabled people, who often have the most profound of health conditions, and prolonged and increased stress is a killer.
My research evidence is attached FYI in the hope that your colleagues at the DWP may finally accept the American style medical tyranny they have unleashed in this country.  Claiming that Labour introduced the WCA is now falling on deaf ears due to the significant changes under this government that are increasing the death rates dramatically.
I hope this information is helpful especially when helping your constituent.
Mo Stewart
Mo Stewart
Disability researcher
Disabled veteran (WRAF)
Retired healthcare professional
 8 attachments — Download all attachments  
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FAILURE of ESA confirmed.pdfFAILURE of ESA confirmed.pdf
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BBC NEWS transcript - UNUM.pdfBBC NEWS transcript - UNUM.pdf
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THE TRUTH BEHIND WELFARE REFORMS - research summary  - Jan 2012.pdfTHE TRUTH BEHIND WELFARE REFORMS - research summary - Jan 2012.pdf
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John Pring - links to Unum articles.pdfJohn Pring - links to Unum articles.pdf
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Friday, December 14, 2012

A Christmas Poem by Hossylass

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the House
MP’s were feasting on subsidised grouse
Their expenses were listed and nobody cared
That the cries of disabled were going unheard

The Members soon nestled in tax funded beds
While visions of riches danced in their heads
And a subservient underclass doffing its cap
Settled their brains for a long winter nap

When out in the streets there came such a clatter
They crawled from their beds to see what was the matter
Drapes cast asunder, it was clear in a flash
That the strivers were clearing the Ministerial trash

The cleaners had trudged in through 8 inches of snow
To buff and to polish the offices below
No living wage at the end of the day
Just tax payer subsidised minimum pay

And out in the doorways of numerous places
The homeless and helpless shielded their faces
Their hopes and their dreams had drifted away
Replaced by despair at another new day.

But this year at Christmas a miracle appears
An army of deviant kind volunteers
Disability Ninjas armed with the facts
Savaging proposals with a symbolic axe

And along the blade the words burn bright
“You will not destroy us, we will turn and fight”
To speak for those who’s voices are small
Voices ignored, if heard at all

Churches and Unions stood up to fight
To demand what is reasonable, and what is right

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land
Tears are shed at what is planned
By the people who with enormous wealth
Are happy to endanger the very health
Of the people who quietly every day
Keep the country ticking away

NHS nurses and other health workers
In danger of becoming next weeks “shirkers”
But the Charities, activists and Unions united
Now they will help the lives of the blighted
The poor, the rejected, the lost in despair
We will reach out and comfort and show that we care

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the lands
The sword of truth awakens in our own hands
And when it seems too heavy to swing
Remember the miracles that Christmas can bring.

Scots Nurse Joyce Drummond, Who Made Heartfelt Apology To Atos Assessment Victims, Is Reporting Problems With Her Tribunal Appeal

I have a correspondence with Joyce Drummond, the Scots nurse who was the subject of this recent article:

Nurse makes heartfelt apology after Atos forced her to trick disabled people out of benefits


See also:

Joyce e-mailed me the following a few hours ago:

I have received my tribunal appeal papers, including an ESA85A form, which states that my friend was holding an Iphone throughout my "interview" -(note not assessment.)
HCP states that she asked him to put phone away and advised him of breach of privacy - this is a lie, it did not happen!
She further states that while examining me she caught my friend reading computer screen, but my friend denied it. Again this just never happened.
She states" Unpleasant interview due to obvious taping of "conversation" (again not assessment) and reading computer notes"
This is an official document! It is also dated 4/6/12. My assessment was 1/6/12.
Seems paranoia is rife at Atos!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is just a few days away! The commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2012, provides an opportunity to address the exclusion of persons with disabilities by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes that the existence of barriers constitutes a central component of disability. Under the Convention, disability is an evolving concept that “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Make the Day count! Include! Organize! Celebrate! Take Action!

Find out more at:

Join us at United Nations Headquarters for special events to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December.

This International Day of Persons with Disabilities marks the beginning of the preparatory process for the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability and Development (HLMDD) to be held on 23 September 2013. Other events include a panel discussion under the theme of the HLMDD: “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”, as well as the United Nations Enable Film Festival. For Entry Passes for the events, please contact

Saturday, November 24, 2012

New Book on Disability in Jane Eyre

The Madwoman and the Blindman
Jane Eyre, Discourse, Disability

Edited by
David Bolt, Julia Miele Rodas, and Elizabeth J. Donaldson.
Ohio State University Press, 2012.

Drawing on the work of disability theorists, as well as scholarship in women’s studies, deconstruction, autism studies, masculinity studies, caregiving, theology, psychoanalysis, and film studies, the contributors to this new Anglo-American book suggest that disability may have a more pervasive, subtle, and textured place in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre than has previously been acknowledged, guiding us to an enriched understanding of the novel and of the meanings and functions of disability. With previously unpublished contributions from Lennard J. Davis, Margaret Rose Torrell, D. Christopher Gabbard, Essaka Joshua, Susannah Mintz, and Martha Stoddard Holmes, this is the first book to apply disability studies to a single literary work.
The book is now available and shall be the subject of a panel at the forthcoming MLA conference in Boston.
For further information, please contact:

Dr. David Bolt

Director, Centre for Culture & Disability Studies

Editor, Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Lecturer, Education and Disability Studies

Founder, International Network of Literary & Cultural Disability Scholars

Telephone: 0151 291 3346

Office: EDEN 128

Postal address: Graduate School, Faculty of Education, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, L16 9JD.

Coming soon: The Madwoman and The Blindman: Jane Eyre, Discourse, Disability, edited by David Bolt, Julia Miele Rodas, and Elizabeth J. Donaldson

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Latest Letter To DWP Ministers

Date: November 22, 2012 <>

cc:,,, "Dspd Enable" <>, "Jorge Araya" <>,,, "Sam Poling" <>,

Subject: Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of recipients 9 July 2012

DWP Ministers
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street
SW1H 9DA, England

Dear DWP Ministers,

I am a 56-year-old Disability Studies specialist from Montreal, Canada who has been reporting frequently for the past year to the United Nations on the crisis for the United Kingdom’s sick and disabled. Austerity measures, consisting of draconian welfare reforms and “sham” means-testing (Atos Healthcare U.K. and the Department for Work and Pensions) are ostensibly to blame for their plight—with disability hate crime and inflammatory media attacks factored into this mix.

I am writing in regard to the attached report, "Incapacity Benefits: Deaths of Recipients", published by your department on July 9, 2012 (download link: ).

What is strikingly apparent and of extreme concern to me is that the report does not provide reasons for any of the recorded deaths—especially the 10,600 ESA deaths that occurred between January, 2011 and November, 2011.  Were any of these recorded deaths the result of suicide and/or destitution?

Given the clear risk of destitution (see: ), I am  sharing with you the following correspondence.  Please note that Ian Davies of England is facilitating my Freedom of Information requests since I am a citizen and resident of Canada.

Please see this Ministry of Justice response:

Please see this letter by Ian Davies to his local coroner:

Below is the November 14, 2012 response of Mr. Singleton, HM coroner:

Dear Mr Davies,

I refer to your letter in relation to deaths of benefit claimants facing Work Capability Assessments.

The Coronial system at the present time does not involve the collating of such information, nor in looking for National trends. The role of the Coroner is case specific, consequently the information yo seek is not available.

It is, however, anticipated that the law in relation to death certification will be amended in 2014 to provide for Medical Examiners. It will then be the role of Medical Examiners to look at such matters. Clearly, if your concerns persist to that time then the Medical Examiner would be the person to whom such a request should be forwarded.

Yours sincerely

Michael J H Singleton
HM Coroner
Blackburn, Hyndburn & Ribble Valley

The above correspondence, coupled with the stark omission of explanatory causes for the thousands of deaths cited in the attached DWP report, plus the overriding risk of welfare destitution deaths, has left me seriously concerned about the current lack of a proper, sufficient, and robust Coronerial reporting system to both the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions.

I am therefore recommending, in the strongest of terms, that the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions ensure, as soon as possible, that there is proper and robust reporting by coroners so that suicides and/or destitution deaths of welfare recipients (and recipients who perished shortly after being stripped of their benefits) can be duly reported to both the DWP and the MOJ.  (There have even been cases of stress-related deaths, such as David Groves, who died from a heart attack the night before taking his work ­capability assessment. See: )

Furthermore, the next DWP report on IB and/or ESA recipient deaths must include specific reasons for recorded deaths.  Yes, it is quite likely that the majority of these deaths are the result of serious illnesses and disabling conditions. But surely,  if even only a few IB and/or ESA welfare recipients have committed suicide and/or have perished due to destitution, the government should be properly informed of these cases by coroners and the government committed to assume the responsibility of duly recording these causes of death in its reports. 

It is my belief that transparency is in the government's best interest, and would certainly help to allay some of the concerns of UK disability campaigners and United Nations officials—not to mention my own apprehensions.

I do require, and would appreciate, an e-mail response to my recommendations from the DWP.  My contact information is below my signature, and I have taken the liberty of providing my street address.

Thanking you in advance for your reply.

Best wishes.

Samuel Miller
Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
(Montreal, Canada)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Support International Disability Rights

AHEAD is working with the United States International Council on
Disabilities and over 100 disability focused organizations to support
ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities (CRPD <> )
which has the potential to facilitate international travel, business
opportunities and markets for individuals with disabilities as well as
expanding options for study abroad international exchanges of students
and scholars that are so critical for tomorrow's education and economy.
AHEAD is encouraging everyone to support for the Convention by giving
just 3 minutes of your time today.

Groups opposed to the treaty have been busy making calls and using
social media. We need every U.S. Senate member to be contacted so they
can hear the disability community and its allies voice their support for
U.S. ratification of this international disability treaty! Get your
friends, family, and work colleagues to call, Tweet, Twitpic, email and
Facebook  today  to show support!

CONTACTS: You can find phone and email contact information for your
senator and
Twitter IDs for your senators
(Tweet using #CRPD #UNCRPD)

Tell your Senators:

*       I support the CRPD treaty and I want to see he/she vote in
support of the treaty this year!
*       The CRPD will not cost the Federal Government any additional
*       The CRPD has been reviewed by both Republican and Democratic
Attorneys General and by past Counsel to Presidents. They confirm that
it does not threaten the sovereignty of the U.S. nor does it require any
new legislation to comply with the treaty.
*       This treaty is good for American business and for the world. It
will allow us to bring our knowledge of making a society accessible to
the whole world.
*       MOST IMPORTANTLY - This treaty is very important to the U.S.
disability community! It will help raise accessibility around the world,
directly helping Americans with disabilities who study, live, work, or
travel abroad.

Sample Tweet : @(SenatorID) Support the #CRPD #UNCRPD in 2012! This is a
#disability issue and we say vote YES!

Sample Twitpic:

More information about the treaty.

Interested in why the CRPD is important to parents of children with

Add your organization to a list of over 265 U.S. disability
organizations that support the CRPD

L. Scott Lissner, President

Association on Higher Education And Disability

Multiple Perspectives 2013 Intersections & Independence April 16-17

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The economic crisis is now a human rights crisis

EDF Statement on a ‘Social Investment Package’ to the European Council

22-23 November 2012

The economic crisis is now a human rights crisis

·        Whereas 80 million persons with disabilities live in the European Union (16% of the population), and that one in four Europeans has a family member with a disability;
·        Acknowledging that persons with disabilities and their families have been hit disproportionately hard by the crisis leading to the worsening of their living conditions  and endangering their social rights, including cuts in benefits and services;
·        Regretting that the economic crisis hit the most vulnerable citizens across Europe, which are at higher risk of poverty and discrimination.
·        Deploring the lack of long term vision of national reforms focused on immediate increasing tax burden hitting in particular low and middle income, as jeopardizing social services, and thereby undermining the European social model based on social inclusion;
·        Recalling that investing in welfare plays an important role in stabilising incomes and protecting the most vulnerable groups at times of crisis;
·        Acknowledging that recovery measures have up to now neglected the important contribution for growth and employment that could be brought by persons with disabilities themselves and by the development of services which they receive and manage;
·        Recalling that all the EU member states are parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and that they have a legally binding obligation to progressively improve, in a systematic way, universal access to essential goods and  to services such as healthcare, education, housing and social security as well as to ensure just and favourable working conditions, without any discrimination, in accordance with established international norms;
·        Highlighting that the EU and its Member States have sealed a strong Pact with citizens with disabilities by signing and ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
·        Remembering that persons with disabilities do not enjoy human rights on an equal basis as others despite the adoption of the UN CRPD, but yet they are subject to the same obligations as any other citizen;
·        Stressing the moral obligations that fall upon the European Union after winning the Nobel Peace Prize 2012, for the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights;
·        Noting the EU commitment to making the EU a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy through the delivery of high level employment, productivity and social cohesion;
·        Acknowledging however how far away reality is from this vision and the Europe 2020 Strategy targets;
·        Stigmatising the limited references, both in the Annual Growth Survey and the National Reform Programmes, to policy actions to promote the rights of persons with disabilities;
Noting that the upcoming European Council on 22 - 23 November will focus on the Multiannual Financial Framework, the European Disability Forum calls on:
-           the European Council,
-           the European Commission,
-           the European Parliament,
-           the European Central Bank,
-           and all the heads of State and Government:
·        To adopt a strong multiannual financial framework that includes social investments in order to overcome the current economic and social crisis and to produce long term investments including adequately resourced Structural Funds and accessible public procurement procedures;
·        To ensure that the future structural funds regulation sets among its priorities accessibility, capacity building and full and equal participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, as well as capacity building;
·        To invest in research that actively involves persons with disabilities that will boost access of goods, infrastructure and services for persons with disabilities producing benefits to all EU citizens and developing the potential of EU SMEs;
·        To support investment in accessible Trans-European Networks and Infrastructure projects;
·        To develop a 'Social Investment Package' founded on human rights and non-discrimination principles;
·        To base the above 'Social Investment Package' on a long term programme investing in social policy and services that will help building a more inclusive, participative and prosperous society;
·        To integrate the 'Social Investment Package' within Europe 2020 Strategy through specific measures to protect and promote rights of citizens with disabilities. To ensure that period at this time of crisis the European Union meeting its obligations as a State Party to the UN CRPD
·        To recognize and implement the right of persons with disabilities to adequate resources and support by means  of consistent and comprehensive measures to fight social exclusion;
·        To tackle poverty and social exclusion by labour market attainment through investing in labour participation of persons with disabilities, including those who require more intensive support as well as those with psychosocial disabilities,  also using state aids for employment and training;
·        To provide adequate support for persons with disabilities to enter or re-enter and maintain employment in a way that best relates to their capacity to work;
·        To invest in social protection measures to compensate  for lack of work-related income ensuring affordable access to healthcare and long-term care as well as support to families to ensure  the choice of daily living and personal assistance arrangements;
·        To include non-discrimination and accessibility for persons with disabilities as priority areas in the 2013 Annual Growth Survey, which should be translated into policy actions in the National Reform Programmes;
·        To take a strong political decision to put in place all necessary instruments and guarantees that will effectively protect persons with disabilities from the consequences of the economic crisis.
·      To support the Social Protection Floor, as developed by the International Labor Organisation, which sets  “core human rights obligations”  including inter alia the provision of essential social transfers, in cash and in-kind, to persons with disabilities, which are at higher risk of poverty than non-disabled citizens, as well as the provision of a minimum income security and the access to essential support services including health care, taking into account the specific language needs of certain groups;
·        To put in place a system of social guarantees as defined by the UN and the World Bank, through the development of a concrete operational framework for the design and monitoring of public and private services according to principles of equity and redress, including the realization of social and economic rights of persons with disabilities;
·        To develop specific indicators on disability and the collection of consistent data in order to achieve a better knowledge of the social groups affected by the consequences of the crisis in order to develop customized solutions.


Media release


Cyprus, 18 November 2012 /// On 17-18 November 2012, the European disability movement gathered at Ayia Napa, Cyprus, for EDF’s Board meeting thanks to the support of Cyprus EU Presidency. Representatives of its member organisations all around Europe, as well as representatives of the Cyprus Republic and the European Parliament discussed the steps to be taken towards a more inclusive and accessible Europe. During the meeting, EDF adopted a Statement on the crisis in view of the upcoming European Council on 22-23 November 2012.


Acknowledging that persons with disabilities and their families have been hit disproportionately hard by the crisis leading to the worsening of their living conditions and endangering their social rights, during its Board meeting in Cyprus, EDF adopted a Statement on the crisis calling for social investments to protect and respect the rights of persons with disabilities. The Statement will be sent to the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Central Bank and all the heads of State and Government in view of the upcoming European Council on 22-23 November 2012.

Lila Sylviti
European Disability Forum
| nothing about us without us
Square de Meeus 35 | 1000 Brussels Belgium
T +32 2 282 46 04 | F +32 2 282 46 09

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Scots Nurse Joyce Drummond, Who Made Heartfelt Apology To Atos Assessment Victims, Submits Evidence To The Scottish Parliament Select Committee On Welfare Reform

I have a correspondence with Joyce Drummond, the Scots nurse who was the subject of this recent article:

Nurse makes heartfelt apology after Atos forced her to trick disabled people out of benefits


She has submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Select Committee on Welfare reform, which she forwarded to me this morning. 

I am posting her evidence in its entirety, which consists of three submissions to Scottish Parliament.  Please excuse the formatting and grammatical errors; I am simply copying  and pasting her letters.

First Submission:

I worked as a HCP (nurse) for Atos for 5 months in 2009. I left because of the way I felt I was expected to trick sick and disabled people. I have not worked since. I have recently whistleblown on Atos.

 I knew nothing about Atos when I joined, and left as soon as I realised that there was no way to fight from the inside,

I carried out Incapacity Benefit assessments, forerunner to ESA.
I stated at my interview for the job that I believed in social inclusion and social justice.
I went for 4 weeks training in England. The training did not prepare me for what I was expected to do in real life.
Firstly the forms that are completed prior to assessment, I have recently found out, are first opened by Royal Mail Staff. They are then sent for "scrutiny" where nurses decide whether or not a face to face assessment is required. I was not involved in this and do not know what criteria is used.

It is made clear throughout training and working that we are not nurses- we are disability analysts. Also that we do not carry out medical assessments - we carry out functional assessments. We did not even need a diagnosis to carry out assessments. I had reservations around consent as we were expected to assess patients - sorry we didn't have patients, we had claimants- who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or other substances. We were also consistently told that we did not make benefit decisions. The final decision was made by a DWP decision maker with no medical qualification. If our assessment was overturned at appeal we never knew about it. There was no accountability for assessments overruled.

Assessment starts on the day by reading the form you complete when applying for benefit. Things that are noted are-
did you complete the form yourself
Is the handwriting legible
are the contents coherent.
These things are already assessing your hand function, your cognitive state and concentration.
Do the things you have written add up.
Does your medication support your diagnosis.
What tests you have had to confirm diagnosis. Forexample a diagnosis of sciatica is not accepted unless diagnosed by MRI scan.
Do you have supporting medical evidence from GP or consultants. I f you do it shows that you are able to organise getting this information.
This is also a hidden cost to the NHS. I believe that if ATOS request information there is a charge levied by GP's.However claimants are expected to source nedical evidence themselves. It uses valuable NHS time for medical staff to write supporting statements.
There were no hidden cameras, at least in Glasgow, to watch people arriving for assessment or sitting in waiting room.
When the HCP has read your form they input some data into the computer system. The assessment proper begins when they call your name in the waiting room. At this point they assess-
did you hear your name being called
did you rise from your chair unaided, did the chair have arms or not
were you accompanied - this addresses you're ability to go out alone.
were you reading a paper while waiting- looks at your concentration.

Did you walk to the assessment room unaided, did you use aids correctly. Did you navigate any obstacles safely- assessing sight.
The HCP will shake your hand when inroducing herself- are you trembling, sweating- signs of anxiety.
Often ask on way to waiting room how long you've been waiting- assessing ability to sit- physically and looking at mental state.
How did you get here today- ability to drive, use public transport.

Assessment begins by listing medical conditions/complaints. For each complaint you will be asked-
How long have you had it, have you seen a specialist, have you had any tests, what treatments have you had, what's your current treatment. Have you had any other specialist input eg physiotherapy, CPN.
The HCP will use lack of specialist input/ hospital admissions to justify assessing your condition as less severe,
Medications will be listed, are they prescribed or bought. Dates will be checked on boxes to assess compliance.
Any allergies or side effects should be noted.
A brief note is made of how you feel each condition affects your life
A brief social history will be taken - who you live with, have you stairs in your house or to your house.
Employment history taken asking when you last worked, what you worked as, reason for leaving employment.
"Typical Day" This is the part of the assessment where how you function on a day to day basis is used to justify the HCP decisions.
Anything you say here is where you are most likely to fail your assessment. Along side this the HCP records their observations.
Starting with your sleep pattern, questions are asked around your ability to function.
Lower limb problems- look at ability to mobilise to shops, around the house, drive, use public transport, dress, shower.
Upper limb- ability to wash, dress, cook, shop, complete ESA form
.Vision- did you manage to navigate safely to assessment room.
Hearing- Did you hear your name being called in waiting room.
Speech- Could the HCP understand you at assessment.
Continence- Do you describe incontinence NOT CONTROLLED by pads,medication. Do you mention it's effects on your life when describing your typical day.
Consciousness- Do you suffer seizures- with loss of continence, possible injury, witnessed, or uncontrolled diabetes.
HCP obsevations include- how far did you walk to examination room, did you remove your coat independantly, did you handle medications without difficulty, did you bend to pick up handbag.
Formal exam consists of simple movements to assess limited function.
Things HCP also looks out for- are you well presented, hair done, makeup, eyebrows waxed.
Do you have any pets- looks at ability to bend to feed and walk.
Do you look after someone else- parent or carer- if you do this will be taken as evidence of functiong
Any training, voluntary work, socialising will be used as evidence of functioning.
This is not a comprehensive list, but gives you an idea of how seemingly innocent questions are used to justify HCP decisions
Mental Health
Learning tasks- can you use phone, computer, washing machine.
Hazards- Can you safely make tea, if claiming accidents- must have had emergency services eg fire service. Near miss accidents do not count.
Personal Actions- Can you wash, dress, gather evidence for assessment
Manage bills.
Observations by HCP= appearance and presentation
coping with assessment interview,abnormal thoughts, hallucinations,confusion.
Coping with change= Ability to attend assesment, attend GP or hospital appointments Shopping and socialising.
HCP observations- appearance, eye contact, rapport, no signs/symptoms abnormal mood/thoughts/perceptions. No suicidal thoughts.
Coping with social engagement/appropriateness of behaviour-
Inapproprite behaviour must have involved police
Ability to attend assessment, engage with assessor, behave appropriately.
Again this is not an exhaustive list, merely examples
There are some "special cases"
Off the top of my head- terminal illness - intravenous chemo- danger to self or others if found fit to work
I am happy to speak to any politician, of any party- except BNP.
I think it is telling that Atos have made no attempt to sue or silence me. They know I am speaking the truth
At present to qualify for ESA you need to score 15 points. This can be a combination of scores from physical and mental health descriptors.
To qualify for support group you must score 15 points in one section.
As long as you are claiming income based ESA the your award can be renewed at each assessment, if you gain 15 points.
Contribution ESA lasts for 1 year only, unless you are inthe support group. After 1 year , outwith support group, you only get income based ESA if your household income is below a certain threshold.It makes no difference how long yoy have previously paid NI for.
 For clarity, as far as I know in the real world, doctors carry out medical assessments, nurses carry out nursing assessments and physios carry out physiotherapy assessments.In the world of Atos each of these separate professions are employed as disability analysts, carrying out functional assessments.
Nurses are employable for these posts - if they have been qualified for at least 3 years, are registered to practice with the NMC, and have basic computer skills.
My interview consisted of-
face to face interview with medical director and nurse team leader.
a written paper assessing a scenario, in my case someone with back pain
A 10 minute basic computer test.
In order to be approved as disability analyst I had to complete 4 weeks Atos disability training, reach a certain standard of assessment reports- as decided by audit of all cases seen (don't know what criteria was) and finally approval to carry out WCA assessments from the Secretary for Works and Pensions.
In my opinion the money given to Atos and spent on tribunals should be given to NHS GPs. They are best placed to make assessments re patients work capability. They have access to all medical reports, past history, specialist input and know their patients. My concern would be what criteria the DWP would impose on GPs risking the doctor/patient relationship. GPs already assess patients for "fit notes", which have to be submitted to DWP during assessment phase of ESA
Re wages at Atos. While I worked there sessional medical staff were being paid £40 per assessment, as far as I am aware.
I have no idea of wages of permenant medical staff.
Nurses were on a salary, which based on 10 assessments a day (Atos target) equalled around £10 per assessment. These are approx, figures but may give a clue as to why Atos are employing nurses rather than doctors.
I hope this is of some help to your committee.
Please do not hesitate me for further clarification.
Joyce Drummond.

Second Submission:

I previously made a submission to your committee about working for Atos.

This submission adresses the effect the welfare cuts have had on me, personally.

Having worked and paid NI for most of the last 30 years, I found myself in the position of having to claim benefit due to ill health.

Previously I had been earning around £28,000 per year. On ESA I was getting under £100 per week. This caused considerable financial difficulty for my family. My husband was in work and my daughter was studying at Glasgow University. As my husband was working we were entitled to no other financial help.

Twice Atos decided I was fit to work, twice this was overturned at Tribunal.

We were managing, after a fashion, until my ESA was stopped in April 2012, due to it being contribution based ESA. As my husband was working I was not entitled to income related ESA. My GP agrees that I am not fit to work at present.
Not only has this caused even more financial difficulty, it has robbed me of any self esteem. self worth and dignity that I had managed to hold onto. I am totally dependant on my family for everything. I feel like a useless burden to them and have thought of suicide as a way out. This has not helped my illness or made getting back to work, in the longer term, any easier,
I am lucky that I have supportive friends and family. I worry about people in my position who may be in abusive, controlling relationships.
I hope you are never in the position to understand how demeaning it is to be like this. It is humiliating and soul destroying to go from being financially independent, to feeling like a begger.
I have worked as a nurse all of my life- I do not believe I am a scrounger or a benefit cheat. I am a human being, who through no fault of my own is unable to work at present.
I plead with this committee to review the law and help those of us in need of some support.
Thank you,
Joyce Drummond.

Third Submission:

3rd submission to Scottish Parliament and link to Independent, where Atos' response was slightly different to their response to Daily Record.

Previous 2 submissions sent previously.

FAO Welfare reform committee.

Following the article I did with the Daily Record, the same article was carried by the Independent newspaper.

This is a copy of the e-mail that I sent to Atos re their response to my article, printed in the Independent.

I have had no official reply to this e-mail, although was told by Atos press office by telephone that the reporter had misquoted them.

I believe this to be another example of Atos' lies.
Joyce Drummond.
-----Original Message-----
From: joyldrummond <>
To: customer-relations <>
CC: ""\"cwgca cwgca\"" <"cwgca cwgca"">
Sent: Sat, 29 Sep 2012 15:05
Subject: Joyce Drummond Independent newspaper

FAO Atos Healthcare Customer Relations Team,

My name is Joyce Drummond.

I am very happy to see a national newspaper -The Independent- highlighting the issues around Atos.

Atos response included in the article, regarding myself, is untrue.

 I was employed to carry out Incapacity Benefit assessments which were the forerunner of ESA. ESA assessments can be used to inform decisions re DLA. I therefor believe that all of these assessments are closely related.

I am extremely unhappy at such lies been told by Atos in an attempt to discredit me.
I would appreciate an apology from Atos and request that they contact the Independent newspaper to retract their response.
I await your response, in order to inform my decision as to proceeding with this complaint.
Joyce Drummond.